By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Canada is well-known for a variety of sports from hockey to basketball but students at Dr. Hamman School were taught a Canadian sport that predates all of those, lacrosse.
With Dave Welton, the technical director of the Southern Alberta Lacrosse Association, dropping by the school last week to educate the students on lacrosse, he was also able to explain the goal of this program.
“(What) We’re hoping to do this visit, is just to introduce the sport of lacrosse to the students of the school and also give Indigenous First Nations teaching on the history of the game of lacrosse,” said Welton. “After COVID, we’ve seen a dramatic drop off in participation in all outdoor active sports, and the Southern Alberta Lacrosse Association has made it an initiative along with Indigenous leadership to help provide teaching and direction in the sport because of our Treaty 7 situation. All our schools are in Treaty 7 land and we want to be respectful and honour the Treaty 7 land rights.”
Welton also spoke on how the program was going, and some of the other places they were going to be showcasing lacrosse, as well as discussing how he feels there’s been an increase in lacrosse due to a variety of circumstances.
“It has been fantastic,” said Welton.
“We have been to schools in Brooks, schools in Taber, we’ve been to Kainai First Nations, and we’re heading towards Medicine Hat, Lethbridge in the next couple of weeks as well as we’re scheduled to go out to Blairmore and Pincher Creek. Combined with Let’s Try Lacrosse, which is a club initiative as well as kids going to watch it on TSN and also follow the sport in the winter doing camps. A lot of kids are a lot more interested in the sport.”
Following this discussion with Welton, Christopher Ward, Grade 5 teacher and vice-principal of Dr. Hamman School provided their angle on why they brought in the program.
“We are looking for ways of encouraging children to get active outside of school and bringing in community teams and organizations to promote their sport to our students,” said Ward. “Also, give… students a chance to maybe try a sport they haven’t tried before. They approached us, and we already have some children who play lacrosse. Some of our gym classes have focused on lacrosse. Lacrosse is Canada’s national sport alongside hockey. There is kind of a cool Indigenous component to it and so those are the reasons we thought, ‘let’s try and expose them to lacrosse for those reasons.’ A lot of her children haven’t really tried it before, and it does seem to be kind of developing a bit of a following in Taber with the children. We just wanted to try and promote that enthusiasm, involvement, and participation.”